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Chicken Switch, Minute By Minute, Drop On Me, Heartbreak, One Way Love, Gold Mine, Let The Monkey Ride, The Gypsy, So They Say, Nothin' I Wouldn't Do, Look Out, If I Only Knew

First album since 2008's The Hard Way but, despite the time away from the recording studios, its pretty much business as usual for the UK's leading R&B singer-songwriter, guitarist and band-leader. And this is of course, very much a good thing as, to my mind, there are far too few James Hunter CDs on the racks.

Hunter first came to prominence in the UK in the 1980s as the front man of Howlin' Wilf And The Vee-Jays. His soulful singing was spotted early and led to an occasional backing singer slot with Van Morrison but it was only when he started  recording under his own name in the late 1990s, first with Believe What I Say on Ace (CDCHD636) and then the stunning Kick It Around on Ruf (sadly no longer available) that he really found his distinctive and wholly persuasive sound.

With 12 original songs, Hunter clearly thrives here on his slow, lost-love ballads like the gorgeous Heartbreak, the philosophical So They Say and the closing If I Only Knew. He also hits the spot on the uptempo numbers as well, such as on  One Way Love, the excellent opening track Chicken Scratch and the bouncy Nothing I Wouldn't Do. And the band have been with him long enough to perfectly deliver the precise and concise way in which his songs are modelled. These isn't an ounce of fat on any of these songs and, where solos are allowed, they are brief and crisp - just how we like them.

It's long been a view of mine that if James Hunter was American instead of being born in Colchester, he would be feted as a leading figure of retro-southern soul and the kind of sixties R&B that we love so much. So greater success and recognition is due and this album, already said by some reviewers to be his best yet, might very well provide the key to finding it.

I do wish Kick It Around was still available though!


Review Date: April 2013

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